Following frequent criticism from government officials over iOS’ lack of a “killswitch” for iPhones that have been lost, Apple added a new “Activation Lock” feature in iOS 7 that locks a lost device until the owner’s Apple ID with it isn’t entered.
This feature was put to test by San Francisco district attorney George Gascón last week, along with similar features from other smartphone manufacturers like Samsung. He noted that “Clear improvements” have been made at combating smartphone theft.
From the S.F. Examiner:
Last week, representatives from Apple and Samsung brought anti-theft technology they are developing to the District Attorney’s Office for review by technical experts.
Apple’s Activation Lock and Samsung’s Lojack for Android were tested during a Thursday meeting. Gascón said he could not discuss the technologies that were examined, as the products are not finalized, but he did say Apple told him it’s planning to release anti-theft technology in the fall.
“I’m very optimistic that they came and were willing to share their technology with us,” Gascón said.
Apple’s earlier solution to iPhone thefts was “Find my iPhone” which let iOS users remotely track the location of their lost device, and securely wipe it, if needed. But even with those measures, a thief could easily erase the device and resell it. With the new Activation Lock, once a device has been marked as lost, and then erased, it can only be used after the owner’s iTunes credentials are entered.
A collective efforts by U.S. carriers to block stolen phones on their networks was largely ineffective, as these phones were anyways shipped abroad for resale in black markets.
Do you think iOS 7’s activation lock will be effective at reducing smartphone thefts?